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Howard libraries install time capsule at 75th anniversary

Alexei Kruse, an 11-year-old from Hammond Middle School, has a plan for Oct. 27, 2040.

The aspiring airplane designer will fly down from Washington state, where he will work at Boeing to unveil a time capsule he and dozens of other middle school students — known as guardians — plan to open in 25 years.

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"I expect airplanes to be lighter by then," said Alexei. He thinks wing structure advances and low operating costs will be "so overwhelming" that flying an airplane will be like launching a feather in the air.

The time capsule – a 31-inch-tall cylinder – was installed at the Howard County Library System Central Branch on Monday as the library system celebrated its 75th anniversary.

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As Howard County Library System reaches its 75th anniversary, book lovers are uniting to establish their history for the future during HCLS's Chapters-of-Our-Lives time capsule ceremony on Oct. 24 at the Miller Branch in Ellicott City.

"We want our readers to connect the past with the present and the present with the future," said Valerie Gross, the library system's president and CEO. "This is a unique opportunity for students to envision the future while being a part history."

The time capsule – nested in the center of a circular bench of the Central Branch's lobby – contains items like an audiobook on CD, a Maryland flag and a copy of the Baltimore Sun, along with the guardians' written reflections about the present and the future.

Guardians answered three questions: What are three ways you spend most of your time? What are the three most important popular current trends? What are three things you like most about the Howard County library system?

Most of the guardians foretold a world with shiny buildings, flying cars, holographic books and life on other planets.

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"We'll probably be driving around in flying cars … and making things move without touching them," said Brian Mbuvi, 12.. He is not sure what he wants to be, but he says he has 25 years to figure it out.

Alex Horn, an 11-year-old from Wilde Lake Middle School, doesn't buy Hollywood's "metallic" portraits of the future.

"Bricks will disappear because they're kind of old fashioned," Horn said. "But I don't think all the buildings will be shiny like in the movies."

An aspiring travel agent with a penchant for planning vacations, Alex plans to fly down from Ann Arbor Michigan in 25 years to open the time capsule. He says kids will laugh at today's trends, like the popular dance the "Whip" and the "Nae Nae."

Bella Saunders, a 13-year-old from Wilde Lake Middle School, hopes technology will address the world's growing problems.

"People should be able to live on other planets because there's a lot of overpopulation," said Bella, who hopes to become a psychologist and start a family by 2040. "I like to think the world will be a better place."

Kai-Lin Yu describes a "scary" future. The 11-year-old from Murray Hill Middle School says the world's problems, including pollution and oil shortages, may outpace technological advances.

In October, the guardians pledged to return on Oct. 27, 2040 to open the time capsule, reseal it and induct the next generation of guardians. They will also seal the second of the three containers. The third capsule will be filled in 2065. In 2090, all three will be opened.

For Bryn Schwartz, being a guardian forces her to think about where she will be in 25 years. Along with starting a family, the 11-year-old from Dunloggin Middle School wants to start her own electronics business.

"People should be able to print the things they want whenever they want," she said. "I hope my kids like the capsule when they see it."

Architects from Grimm + Parker, the firm designing the library and a senior center on the same site in Elkridge, shared plans for both projects with community members on Wednesday. Among the library's features is a DIY Education Center, which will include a tool lending library.

Ashok Kadagala, an 11-year-old from Ellicott Mills Middle School, became a guardian to see if he reaches his career goals: becoming an engineer and a soccer player. He is already skeptical if he will reach his soccer goal: "I'm going to try, but I'll probably get rejected."

Gross and Andy Dalal, the library system's board of trustees chair, also added a letter addressed to the future leadership of the library system on Monday.

"I hope that somebody has to invent an iPhone that we never have to charge," Gross said. "I think in 2040, they'll be laughing that we had to plug it in and recharge.

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman and Howard County Council Chairman Calvin Ball also addressed the guardians at the installation.

"[The library system] is really connecting our past, our present and our future," Kittleman said. "I'm sure people are going to be laughing at how we're dressed."

Ball disagreed, saying their clothes would be "retro. "Everyone will be like 'Ay!' I'm dressing like they were in 2015,' " he said.

Despite students' predictions about a total technology takeover in 2090, they said libraries would not be a forgotten remnant of the past.

"People may think there are only electronic books," said Marleigh Fields, 12, Wilde Lake Middle School." But people will read no matter what."

The county's eContent borrow rate is only about 10 percent, said Gross, calling books a "timeless medium."

Alexei, the aspiring airplane designer, hopes eBooks become more popular for a practical reason: he doesn't want to worry about people drawing or ripping them.

"Mobile libraries would be good," he said.

The guardians "represent our future," said Gross. "By 2090, we could potentially have three generations of guardians to link our past, present and future."

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